“Good luck Florida and New York!”…”Strong shooting California!”
Middle school and high school California archers huddled around a small webcam to wish their fellow competitors good luck.  Those other competitors were a crowd of archers across the country over at the Easton Newberry Archery Center in Florida.  Despite the distance, a deep sense of community and identity connected us.  We are archers.  We are OAS.

As the time came for our first official end of scoring, the first line of archers took their positions.  Those not shooting again gathered around the cameras.  Together the archers in CA and FL counted down, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… BEEP BEEP.  The first end was underway!

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Today the OAS vision took another step forward.  The Olympic Archery in Schools Program was started as a way to introduce youth to the sport of Olympic-style archery through their schools.  The generosity of the Easton family has enabled us to provide equipment, training, and more to schools across the country.  From the start, it was also the vision of Jim Easton to see our sport grow and gain the level of value and recognition as other major sports like soccer, baseball and football.  Thanks to the many great archers and coaches in our program we have been able to re-shape archery competition into a unique league with school teams having archery games against other local teams and then competing in the championship events at the end of the season.

Community and team spirit is a core value of OAS.  The league has fostered this at the local and state levels.  This National Test Event now connects all of us together from coast to coast.  For this year that included archers from our Orlando, Gainesville, New York, Los Angeles, and San Diego conferences.  Each of these conferences had an exciting 2014/2015 season, each filled with their own memorable moments that have now led to this national event.  Many of the Conference and State Champions from each region also participated in this event which provided for an exciting and challenging showdown.

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“This test event is a prelude to the National Championships we will have in future years,” says OAS director Keaton Chia.  “Since our first State Championship event in 2010, we have seen the skill level of our archers steadily rise.  It’s really neat to see how much these kids improve.  It’s like, didn’t you just pick up a bow for the first time last year?  And now you’re shooting all gold?  Wow!  So the competition is going to be intense and the Title of OAS National Champion will be well earned.  More than just being a competition though, these events are really a celebration for us.  It’s an opportunity to celebrate the growth and achievements of our youth, sportsmanship, the OAS community, the spirit of innovation and advancement of our sport, and of course our love for shooting arrows.”

So how did the archers do?  Let’s just say that the archers kept all of us on the edge of our seats!  With the live scoring from Rcherz.com, we could see archers jostling constantly for those coveted top 10 spots, those spots that would receive a special commemorative OAS National Arrow as an award.

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While most archers were within a few of points of each other, one clearly showed that he meant business and that was Tyler Levanduski of First Christian Academy (FCA).  Why do I say that?  It’s because he shot three 9’s.  ONLY three 9’s!  The rest of the 72 arrows were perfect 10’s giving him a near perfect score of 717/720 which secured him first place for the middle school boys.  Also finishing in the top 10 were Noah Combs (FCA), Nikolas Tosi (Lake Mary Prep), Graham Louis (Jordan Glen), Xander Ching (High Tech), Leonardo Cisneros (Sequoia), Riley Gordinier (Magnolia Science Academy), Isaac Kaye (Jordan Glen), Aiden Collins (FCA), and Tyler Freeman (Edison Gate Academy).

On the girls side, Sarina Khemchandani of Windermere Prep showed that she could step up her game to take top honors at this year’s test event.  Just a few months earlier she competed in the Florida State Championship where she shot a 315/360.  At Nationals she shot 30 points higher with a 345/360.  She would keep up this momentum and finish in first with a 685/720.  Joining her in the top ranks were Emily Keene (FCA), Hannah Bender (Lake Mary Prep), CJ Daleiden (Lake Mary), Kaylee Campbell (Sequoia), Sarah Fiorentino (Lake Mary), Jaymee Gonadlo (Magnolia Science Academy), Shanthi Ramakrishna (Windermere), Halldora Thorsdottir (Windermere), and Skyler Williams (Magnolia Science Academy).

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For the high school boys, it took an amazing arrow average to secure first place.  With 72 arrows, Bryan Fu from Lake Highland Prep had an arrow average of 9.72.  You have to shoot a majority of your shots in the ten ring to get that!  Like Sarina, Bryan also made huge strides over his performance at the Florida State Championship, going from a 328 to an opening round of 353 here at nationals.  Following close behind were Dabin Lee (Glendale HS), Daniel Kitts (Lake Highland), Jae Yoon Kim (La Jolla HS), Jonathan Fong (Glendale), Luca Stojic (La Jolla), Michael Canfield (Lake Highland), Matthew Rayco (Glendale), Sterling Brownell (John Muir HS), and Matthew Yancheff (Glendale).

Women’s archery has seen significant growth over the past year.  Where teams used to be comprised of mostly boys, there are now schools who have enough girls participating to even have a full women’s team.  Lake Highland Prep showed not only this growth in the women’s division, but also the strength and skill of their archers by sweeping the top 4 spots.  Leading the charge was Erica Forbes (Lake Highland Prep) who shot a 647/720, also an improvement over her Florida State finish.  Erica was followed by Alexa-Rae Wheeler (Lake Highland), Emily Grossman (Lake Highland), S. Brooke Couch (Lake Highland), Estee Foroozan (La Jolla), Fernanda Barusco (Lake Mary), Angelica Marasigan (John Muir), Rebekah Stone (FCA), Rachel Tindel (International Community School), and Sabelle Garcia (High Tech High Chula Vista).

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What an exciting way to finish up the 2014/2015 season.  We want to thank all of our archers, coaches, and families for being pioneers of the program.  This Test Event was our first time holding a national competition (other than our mail-in) and it was an excellent learning experience for our team.  We hope that our tests of live scoring and live video added new depth to your archery competition experience and we look forward to making this an even better event next year.  Have a great summer and see you on the range again soon!

~ OAS